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To the Mats with Reader Comments: A New Granderson?

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Reader TapDancingTeddy says:

For all your repeated Stengel wisdom, it seems strange that you think there’s any lefty Curtis Granderson can hit.

For at least half the season you campaigned for Granderson to be a platoon only player. You said he couldn’t correct what was wrong at age 29, and you kept coming up with what you thought would be a better alternative than an everyday Curtis.

It seemed to me that the only thing you thought was worse than having Granderson on the team as a full time player was having Austin Jackson on the team in the same role.

I know you said above that it’s all about Liriano being gassed and I’m not challenging that. But I have to ask: have any of your feelings about Granderson changed since he made some modifications to his swing?

I have an open mind, which is more than I would have said two months ago. Granderson was close to hopeless against same-side pitchers from the beginning of his career until roughly seven weeks ago. At that point, he and Kevin Long quieted swing mechanics that had come to resemble a tilt-a-whirl that had gone off its antispasmodics. Not only did Granderson start hitting, he started hitting lefties, batting .286/.375/.500 in 64 plate appearances.

Normally, at this point I would be saying, "Hey, let's not get too excited here. Sixty-four PAs proves nothing. You can't base any conclusion off of so brief a stretch of playing time." And you know what? Ninety-nine percent of the time I would be correct to say so, too. However, in this case, the common-sense reaction might be the wrong one. My eyes are telling me something is different. Granderson really was flying in about six different directions at the plate before the overhaul. Now he gathers himself and is quick to the ball. If his improved results against lefties were simply a matter of singles dropping in with the old mechanics, I would be shouting "fluke," but what seems to be happening is solid hitting as a result of the new mechanics.

Even if I'm correct in that assessment, a lot of things could happen that would make it a moot point: Granderson could regress. Pitchers could make an adjustment to the new Grandy swing. He could have a run of bad luck in which he continues to get in good swings against lefties but makes outs anyway. There will also be lefties that he can't hit just because they're just too difficult. Say the Yankees and the Braves go to the World Series. Lefties hit .071 against Billy Wagner this year, .189 career. Should Granderson be hitting against him with the tying run on in the bottom of the ninth? Hell no.

Last night's situation was very different. You had Grandy's new mechanics, you had a pitcher who had lost his command. Between the two, Francisco Liriano's left-handed advantage would seem to have been less of a concern. There is no wholly correct answer here. If you want to say that if you were Joe Girardi at that moment you would have pinch-hit with a right-handed hitter, that is certainly a defensible call. Prior to August 12, it would almost certainly have been the right call. Now there is the option to stick with Granderson. Again, maybe you don't do it every time. Maybe you don't do it most of the time. In some ways, Girardi's life is now harder because the decision is now more complicated than "if A, then B." My guess is he's probably happier that way... And so am I.